I live a really bleak existence. All I ask is the same rights as all of you

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I wake up and get dressed. I log into my laptop and spend the next few hours glued to my screen. I’m looking through the window. The weather is fine and the sun is shining through the blinds. It would be really nice to go outside.

I can’t, of course.

The rest of the day is spent in a haze of lunch, cups of tea, and Zoom meetings.

Nightfall is coming. I eat my dinner and get up painfully to the bed. I listen to an audiobook for a bit before falling asleep and starting over the next day.

It really is a dreary existence.

Thank goodness things are finally opening up, aren’t they?

As a person with a disability, I often have no choice but to stay indoors due to the lack of personal assistant services

It’s been my life since long before any confinement. As a person with a disability, I often have no choice but to stay indoors due to the lack of personal assistance services. Due to my disability, I need help with basic tasks: going to the bathroom, getting dressed, preparing a meal, etc. For now, I have to rely on my parents for this support. In practice, this means that either my parents have to accompany me when I go out or I just don’t go to the bathroom. Neither is a desirable solution. As a young adult, I don’t want my parents to accompany me to all social functions. They shouldn’t either. I deserve the right to have a social life, independent of them. Still, I can barely go out and not use the bathroom for hours. I have already done this with disastrous consequences.

The solution to this problem is very simple. A personal assistant would give me and other people with disabilities the freedom to live our lives on our own terms without having to depend on family and friends. The personal assistant does not look after the person with a disability, nor does he make sure that the person with a disability is “safe”. The function of a personal assistant is to act as the arms and legs of the disabled person, to perform tasks that a disabled person cannot do on their own. This empowers the disabled person and allows them to access the same choices and freedoms as their non-disabled peers.

How are you supposed to have a great life if you can only use your arms and legs for a few hours a day?

Unfortunately, there is no legal entitlement to a personal assistant in this country, and the service is chronically underfunded. According to figures from the HSE, 65% of users of personal assistant services received less than 10 hours of support per week. How are you supposed to have a great life if you can only use your arms and legs for a few hours a day? And even if one gets a few hours of personal assistant service, the service is dictated by funding. I live in constant fear that my service will be terminated due to budget cuts. The ability to lead an independent life is a human right which should not depend on budgetary restrictions.

Personal assistance services are mentioned in article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which states that persons with disabilities have the right to live in the community and have the right to access services that would allow them to do so. .

The government has ratified this agreement and must therefore keep its promise. People with disabilities have been campaigning for a personal assistant service since the 1990s. In 2012, they had to demonstrate in front of the Dáil in order to prevent the government from cutting essential personal assistance services.

Commentators have raised concerns about the impact of the pandemic on young people. I lived through this for most of my teenage years. My sense of self has been stunted

Throughout this crisis, commentators have worried about the impact of the pandemic on young people, the way they miss formative experiences, the blow to their mental health. I lived through this for most of my teenage years. My sense of self has been stunted. Due to insufficient support from the government, I was unable to go out into the community, have experiences and find out who I am, what my tastes are. This is why personal assistant services are so important: they empower people with disabilities to become who they really are.

In November 2019, the current government passed a motion that would make personal assistant services a legal right. This motion was adopted by everyone present.

Unfortunately, with the election and the coronavirus, progress on this bill has stalled. With the government’s record on the rights of people with disabilities, I fear this bill will be forgotten and people with disabilities will be confined to their homes for the rest of their lives. Enough is enough. The government has tasted our lives. She must give us our rights so that we can live our lives.


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